News

The Foundation will be exceptionally closed on the 22nd, 25th, and 26th of July. However, it will be open on the following dates:

  • 23rd July: from 11 am to 8 pm
  • 24th July: from 11 am to 8 pm
  • 27th July: from 10 am to 6 pm
  • 28th July: from 10 am to 8 pm

FRANÇOIS MORELLET, JESÚS RAFAEL SOTO - OPTICAL & MOVEMENT

Hors Les Murs

Courtesy of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris © Adagp, Paris 2023. Photo credits © Sun Shi / Louis Vuitton

Date
From 27.05.2023 to 26.11.2023
Place
Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing
China World Mall South Zone W. Bldg. 1 Jianguomenwai Ave.
Beijing
Phone
T. +86 216 1332 856
Hours
Open everyday From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing proudly presents Optical & Movement, an exhibition confronting the works of French artists François Morellet and Venezuelan-born Jesús Rafael Soto.

François Morellet received no traditional artistic training and always asserted that his being self-taught ensured his freedom. He began to paint around 1946 and his subsequent discovery of Mondrian, then of Concrete art in the early 1950s, led him to break with all forms of expressiveness and embrace geometry as the best way to achieve conscious artistic creation. Thereafter, he composed paintings based on a set of deductively applied, freely agreed rules. These rules are both serious (in that their effectiveness is indisputable) and utterly madcap. The sheer luck that drives the design of his works is somehow held at bay by rigorous combinatorial analysis.

In 1960, Morellet was a founding member of the Groupe de recherche d’art visuel (GRAV – “Visual Art Research Group”) and found many ways to express his creativity, working in the city and on architecture. The GRAV snubbed subjectivity in any form, but nevertheless sought to “give geometry social meaning,” which was spectacularly achieved through kinetics. Then, in 1963, Morellet grasped the aesthetic potential of neon, a way for him to more broadly and explicitly nurture his relationship with language, before creating increasingly “baroque” works in the early 1990s. 

François Morellet n’a suivi aucune formation artistique mais il a toujours affirmé que son statut d’autodidacte garantissait sa liberté. Il a commencé à peindre vers 1946. La découverte de Mondrian puis de l’art concret au début des années 1950 l’a amené à rompre avec toute forme d’expressivité et à privilégier la géométrie pour parvenir à une création artistique consciente. Par la suite, il a composé des tableaux sur la base de règles librement définies qu’il appliquait de manière déductive. Ces règles étaient à la fois sérieuses et totalement loufoques. Le hasard pur qui guide la conception de ses œuvres est curieusement maîtrisé par une analyse combinatoire rigoureuse.

En 1960, Morellet figurait parmi les membres fondateurs du GRAV (Groupe de recherche d’art visuel), où il a trouvé de nombreuses manières d’exprimer sa créativité. Le GRAV rejetait la subjectivité sous toutes ses formes, mais cherchait néanmoins à « donner un sens social à la géométrie », une quête qui a abouti au spectaculaire art cinétique. En 1963, Morellet a saisi le potentiel esthétique du néon, un support qui lui a permis d’alimenter plus largement et explicitement sa relation au langage avant de créer des œuvres de plus en plus « baroques » au début des années 1990.

Jesús Rafael Soto was born in a small town in Venezuela. Nothing predisposed him to be part of the aesthetic revolutions that swept through Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. From 1942 to 1947, he studied at the Escuela Superior de Artes Plasticas in Caracas. He was intrigued by the work of Mondrian and Malevich and, like other South American artists, joined abstract art circles. Soto then took the helm at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where he stayed until 1950, when he moved to Paris, France.

In 1955, he took part in the Le Mouvement exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Denise René, an event that marked the birth of Kinetic art. He is one of the artists who invite the observer to experience a work that challenges concepts of movement, time and space. For many years, Soto’s art would seesaw between geometric and organic forms: in 1957, he favoured abstract techniques, but definitively returned to geometric expression in 1965. Over the course of this decade, he began creating linear and kinetic constructions using industrial and synthetic materials such as nylon, Perspex, steel and industrial paints – as clearly seen in the series entitled Pénétrables. Soto’s research and experimentation increased his awareness of the fluidity of time and space, relying on what forms the foundations of painting – formal structure and chromatic interplay.

François Morellet and Jesús Rafael Soto met in 1956 and became close. Each uniquely embodies post-war art, an abstract, geometric art that experiments with light, movement and optical properties.

The exhibition at the Espace Louis Vuitton Beijing marks the 100th anniversary of Soto’s birth.

Courtesy of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris © Adagp, Paris 2023. Photo credits © Sun Shi / Louis Vuitton

Jesús Rafael Soto

Jesús Rafael Soto was born in 1923 in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, and died in 2005 in Paris, France. He was one of the main exponents of Kinetic art, the art of movement. He served as director of the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Maracaibo, Venezuela, then received a scholarship that allowed him to move to Paris in 1950. He took part in Le Mouvement (Movement) at Galerie Denise René in Paris, the 1955 exhibition that effectively launched Kinetic art. He also had works in the exhibitions of the ZERO group in an exploration of immateriality. In his earliest works, Soto was already endeavouring to move beyond representation of two-dimensional geometric shapes and introduced movement using the device of repetition. The viewer is central to Soto’s œuvre. In 1967, he produced his first Pénétrables, works composed of metal rods and nylon strands hanging in space.

The first major solo exhibitions of Soto’s work took place in 1968, at the Kunsthalle in Berne, Switzerland, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. More solo exhibitions followed at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1969; the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, USA, in 1974; and, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela, in 1983. More recent Soto-centred exhibitions include those at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris in 1997; the Centro Cultural del Conde Duque in Madrid, Spain, in 1998; a major traveling retrospective exhibition in 2005 entitled Visión en Movimiento at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico; the Proa Foundation, Argentina; and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy.

Soto was commissioned to make numerous monumental works for public spaces and buildings around the world, including at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, 1969; the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas, 1972; the Grand Hall de la Régie Renault in Paris, 1975; the Royal Bank of Toronto, Canada in 1977; the Centro Banaven in Caracas, 1979; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, 1987. In 1973, with the aid of his architect friend Carlos Raul Villanueva, Soto built the Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto in his native city of Ciudad Bolivar to house the sizeable collection of geometric and kinetic works he amassed throughout his life. The museum also contains many of Soto’s own most important works.

François Morellet

François Morellet was born in 1926 and died in 2016 in Cholet, France. He began his career in the early 1950s and then explored the worlds between abstraction and derision. Nicknamed and self-titled the “rigorous joker,” he developed a radical body of work forged by discipline and rife with jocularity. From very early on, he strove to distance himself as much as possible from all subjectivity and romanticism traditionally associated with the figure of the demiurge-artist. Confining himself to specific methods and restrictions, to apply them and better get around them, he celebrated freedom within the rules. Square canvases, adhesive tape, neon lights, natural or high-tech components – he used anything and everything in his artistic expression, experimenting with the infinite power of combinations and sheer happenstance in material neutrality and creative anonymity.

His work is celebrated and recognised worldwide (nearly 500 monographic exhibitions to date) and was exhibited at the Dia Art Foundation in New York, USA, in November 2017. Morellet’s works can be found in the collections of the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, Denmark; the Kunstmuseum in Düsseldorf and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Germany; the Tate Modern in London, United Kingdom; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; the Kunsthaus in Zürich, Switzerland; the MNAM – Centre Pompidou in Paris, France and other key institutions. He produced commissioned works in France and Germany and, in 2010, was commissioned by the Musée du Louvre to create the permanent Lefuel Staircase window installations, L’Esprit d’escalier.